Joan Caulfield

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Joan Caulfield
Joan Caulfield Sept 1941.jpg
September 1941 McCall's Magazine cover image of Joan Caulfield
Born Beatrice Joan Caulfield
(1922-06-01)June 1, 1922
West Orange, New Jersey, USA
Died June 18, 1991(1991-06-18) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Years active 1946–1987
Spouse(s) Dr. Robert Peterson (1960–1966) (divorced) son
Frank Ross (1950–1960) (divorced) son

Joan Caulfield (June 1, 1922 – June 18, 1991) was an American actress and former fashion model. After being discovered by Broadway producers, she began a stage career in 1943 that eventually led to signing as an actress with Paramount Pictures.

Life and career[edit]

Born while her family resided in East Orange, New Jersey, she moved to West Orange during childhood[1] but continued attending Miss Beard's School in Orange, New Jersey.[2] During her teenage years, the family moved to New York City where Joan eventually attended Columbia University.

She had a great success portraying the troublesome teenager Corliss Archer in the 1943 hit comedy play Kiss and Tell. After a year in the role she left the production to pursue offers from Hollywood and she was replaced by her sister Betty Caulfield.

One of her most memorable film roles was when she was lent out to Warner Bros. to appear in The Unsuspected (1947) alongside Claude Rains and Audrey Totter. Later in life she appeared mostly on television, appearing on programs such as Cheyenne, Baretta, and Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury. In the 1957–1958 season, Caulfield starred in her own short-lived NBC situation comedy, Sally in the role of a traveling companion to an elderly widow, played by Marion Lorne. At midseason, Gale Gordon and Arte Johnson joined the cast.[3]

An urban legend states that Caulfield's film Dear Ruth (1947) inspired author J.D. Salinger to name the protagonist of his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) "Holden Caulfield" after seeing a movie theater marquee with the film's stars: Caulfield and William Holden. However, Holden Caulfield was mentioned in Salinger's short story "Last Day of the Last Furlough" in the July 15, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, three years before Dear Ruth.[4] The earliest known use of the Caulfield name, including a mention of Holden, is in the unpublished 1942 story "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans."[5] A more common version of the legend claims that Salinger was taken by Joan Caulfield upon first seeing her in a modeling photo or a publicity still or an acting performance.[6][7] Since Joan was a leading model by 1941 and her acting career began in 1942 with an appearance in the short-lived Broadway musical Beat the Band,[8] this version of the legend makes his using her surname for his character at least possible.

In 1967 she starred in the western T.V. series The High Chaparral as Annalee Cannon on the pilot episode of the series. She was murdered in the series and that was the premise for the whole plot.

In 1950, she married the film producer Frank Ross, with whom she had a son, Caulfield Kevin Ross. She and Ross were divorced in 1960. She later married Robert Peterson, a dentist, with whom she had her second son, John Caulfield Peterson. Her second marriage ended in divorce as well.

She died, aged 69, from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and had lived in Beverly Hills, California.[1]

At the time of her death, she had one grandchild. She died within 24 hours of actress Jean Arthur, the first wife of her husband Frank Ross, Jr. Arthur had been married to Ross in 1932, and they divorced in 1949.


  1. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn. "Joan Caulfield, A Film Actress, Is Dead at 69", The New York Times, June 20, 1991. Accessed October 23, 2007.
  2. ^ Joan Caulfield, Actress, Obituaries Today. Accessed October 23, 2007. "At Miss Beard’s, a local private school, Joan made her stage debut in A Kiss for Cinderella."
  3. ^ "Sally". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  4. ^ Saturday Evening Post, July 15, 1944
  5. ^
  6. ^ Richler, Mordecai. "SUMMER READING; RISES AT DAWN, WRITES, THEN RETIRES", The New York Times, June 5, 1988. Accessed October 23, 2007. "We are told, for instance, that the name Holden Caulfield probably came from joining the name of a boyhood friend called Holden to that of the movie actress Joan Caulfield, on whom Mr. Salinger once had a crush."
  7. ^ Honan, William H. "Shylock To Sherlock A Study In Names", The New York Times, February 9, 1997. Accessed October 23, 2007. "J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, he said, resulted from the writer's combining the last names of a friend named Holden and the actress Joan Caulfield."
  8. ^

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